Al forno in Italian cuisine is basically a dish that has been baked in the oven. Really this can be used to describe lasagna, baked ziti, and all of the other delicious cheesy Italian dishes you can think of. I pretty much love anything topped with homemade marinara and cheese. It just makes you feel all warm and gooey inside, and ready to sleep immediately after.
In lieu of making a pasta dish, I found all these recipes on pinterest for Spaghetti Squash prepared in this "al forno" style. A halved spaghetti squash topped with marinara and cheese sounded like the easiest dish to prepare for a quick week night dinner. Well, I soon found out as a newbie to the world of spaghetti squash, I was ill prepared to handle this vegetable's hard outer shell! I was in the kitchen prepared with one of my sharpest knives and a towel to rest the squash on, planning to rotate as I cut through the squash, oh so delicately and professionally, with the expertise of a Michelin Chef...FAIL. It was so difficult to do!! So, I put the squash back in my fridge hoping to try another day. Luckily I was telling N about my struggles, she then informed me that in fact you can bake the whole squash until the outside skin softens at which point it is much easier to cut in half. Genius! So, I happily went back to preparing this dish.
While my squash didn't turn out looking quite as beautiful as this one, the recipe is similar and this was the catalyst for my similar creation....ok, it's the same, except it doesn't look quite as perfect!!
In any case, try this one out and see how you like it!
Baked Spaghetti Squash Al Forno
1 spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1-2 cups shredded cheese (mozarella or cheddar)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsps olive oil
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced finely
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil all over the outside of the spaghetti squash. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take it out and let cool on a cutting board for about 5 minutes.
- Half your spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds inside.
- Rub 1/2 tbsp of olive over cut side of squash halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 30 - 45 minutes, until the strands can be scraped. It will cook more later.
- Remove from oven and scrape the squash into strands.
- While the squash is baking you can make your tomato sauce. Put onion, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Keep on low simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Loosen the strands of squash inside the squash. Top with a couple tablespoons of sauce and cover with a 1/2 - 1 cup of shredded cheese. Grate lightly with parmesan on top. Put under broiler for 4 minutes. Top with salt and pepper and eat!